Another 70s Flashback

In which The Author revisits another old book

In In the City I showed you a page from Dad’s old International Police Association Guide to London, published in 1971. Dad used to go to London a couple of times a year, usually to trade shows when he worked in the furniture business, and I’m sure he found this little guide quite useful when he was there. I’ve kept it for nostalgia’s sake, although the pages are falling out and some of them have gone missing entirely.
By the time I got to London in October 1984, it was already pretty much obsolete. For one thing, the prices were radically different. Have a look at this extract from the ‘Eating Out’ section:
“… we have compiled a classified list of restaurants for your enjoyment, dividing them into districts and types of cuisine. The following abbreviations are used: L=Luncheon; D=Dinner; CL=Closed; Sat.=Saturday; Sun=Sunday; Mon.=Monday; A=prices under £1; B=prices between £1 and £1.50; C=prices between £1.50 and £2; X=prices over £3. These prices are the approximate charge for an average three-course a la Carte meal (not including drinks).
That’s just one huge change in less than fifteen years. When I was there, you were lucky to get a bag of chips for less than about 60p. However, the page I’m highlighting today reflects more of a change of language than a change of economics. In the mid-1960s, Swinging London was a convenient shorthand for the outpouring of music, art, fashion, literature, cinema and hedonism which characterised that period. It obviously hung over into the next decade, as this page shows:

Swinging scene

Isn’t it funny how words change their meanings over the years? I suspect that these days, if you want information on the ‘swinging scene’, you’d be far more likely to find it on the Internet than in any guidebook.

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